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Dylan Bundy: Fantasy Baseball Year-in-Review

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Dylan Bundy was the fourth pick of the 2011 Draft, making the big leagues the very next season. Although he only threw 1 2/3 innings at the end of the season, the righty had ripped through the minors with a 2.08 ERA in 2012, posting a sub-1.00 WHIP and striking out 119 in 103 2/3 innings, and looked like a future ace in Baltimore. Then there were the injuries that kept him out of the big leagues until 2016.

You can argue that it was a classic "too much, too soon" case for the teenager, but Bundy missed the entire 2013 season with Tommy John surgery. He then had shoulder woes and, after all of the promise in 2012, threw only 63 1/3 innings from 2013-2015. Back in the big leagues in 2016, Bundy pitched to a 4.02 ERA and 10-6 record in 109 2/3 innings, but allowed too many hits (109) and only had a 2.48 BB:K ratio. He took a bit of a step forward in 2017 with a 13-9 record and 4.24 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, priming him for a potential breakout in 2018.

We know how that turned out, as what followed was a 16-loss season with a 5.45 ERA and 41 home runs allowed for a faltering Orioles team that lost 107 games. Still only 26, can Bundy bounce back from a poor season, put his injuries in the past, and be an effective starting pitcher this coming season?

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Can Bundy Breakout in 2019?

Before there is too much analysis: Bundy's 2012 minor league season was an outlier in every way shape and form, basically making it impossible to scale to the big leagues. While it is not brilliant to look back at a minor league season from six years ago for projections in 2019, this was the most successful stint of Bundy's pro career and would be the counterpoint to calling Bundy a bust. In 2012, though, Bundy also saw his ERA and WHIP rise at each level and much of his success came from a stint in Low-A where he allowed just seven baserunners in 30 innings. It was impressive that Bundy posted huge stats as a teenager, but not as impressive when you peel the layers back on the season.

The 2018 season was mostly a lost one for Bundy, but fantasy owners need to remember that, in the first five starts of the season, he had allowed just 35 base runners in 31 2/3 innings and had struck out 40 batters. Bundy also had 184 strikeouts in 171 2/3 innings last season, posting 14 starts where he struck out at least seven batters. No one will sign up for 188 hits allowed or the fact that he allowed seven earned runs in three consecutive August starts, but at least Bundy looks like he has fulfilled his strikeout potential.

In looking at the advanced statistics to pair with Bundy's 2018 season, it appears that Bundy was a tad bit unlucky. His fly ball rate was down year over year (47.2% to 46%), but his home run to fly ball ratio jumped to 17.8%. This ratio came with a drop in hard hit ball rate from 36.5% to 34.6% year over year and could explain his 4.28 xFIP being far lower than his 5.45 ERA. No matter the positives for Bundy, he had the fifth-worst GB% (34%) of qualified pitchers; one could say that Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Gerrit Cole were all successful with GB% under 36, but they all had far better strand rates than Bundy's 69.3%. A 28% hard hit ball rate a 35.9% ground ball rate from 2016 are good signs that show that Bundy can limit damage, as is a .273 BABIP from 2017 than was considerably better than his .316 in 2018. A swinging strike rate (12.7%) in the top-10 is a great sign for Bundy as well.

The biggest issue with Bundy in 2019 is that the Orioles do not have a lot going for them. This will likely suppress any value that Bundy has leading into the draft, but also may cause him to go undrafted. If that is the case, he may be a strong sleeper candidate, considering his huge strikeout potential. At a minimum, it is good to keep Bundy on your mind as a streamer in the early part of the season, but don't be shocked if he winds up as a good stash at the end of the draft.

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